Carbon, energy and climate change

Delivering water and sewerage services is energy intensive.  Icon Water is constantly looking at ways to reduce its energy consumption, reduce the generation of greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience against climate change.

Energy Management

Energy use is one of Icon Water’s largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.  With a commitment to reducing both energy use and carbon, we have reduced our energy consumption by 25% since 2009/2010.  Icon Water has also been exploring ways to reduce energy costs by limiting consumption at peak times to avoid peak demand charges with our pumping stations already operating at off-peak times.

Icon Water is required to report on annual energy use under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme (NGERS).  Click here for the NGERS report.

Energy Efficiency

Icon Water continues to monitor energy consumption and improve the energy efficiency of its operations with programs such as lighting upgrades, video conferencing facilities to reduce staff travel as well as staff behavioural change programs.

In 2015 Icon Water will be developing a Carbon and Energy Strategy with a focus on implementing further energy efficiency opportunities. The following have formed part of the strategy development.

  • Undertaken Marginal Abatement Cost Curve analysis to identify energy reduction opportunities
  • Over 50 opportunities identified
  • Benchmarking Icon Water energy consumption with that of other Australian Water Utilities
  • Energy performance auditing, monitoring, measuring and analysis

Mini-hydros

Icon Water has 4 mini-hydro electricity generators at Bendora Dam, Stromlo Water Treatment Plant (which is under design for upgrade), Googong Dam and at the outlet of the Murrumbidgee to Googong (M2G) pipeline at the discharge point to Burra Creek. These hydro systems generate energy from moving water and supply power to adjoining infrastructure.

Carbon reduction

As part of Icon Water’s ongoing commitment to the environment, we are reducing and offsetting greenhouse gas emissions of our operations. Over the past 4 years our emissions have reduced by 25% emitting approximately 43,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013-2014.  This builds on previous work we have done to address emissions reduction as far back as 1997 when we signed up to the Greenhouse Challenge Plus program.  Our greenhouse gas emissions represent a little over 1% of ACT’s total emissions and are mostly generated from electricity use to operate our larger sites, therefore we are targeting those sites with specific emission reduction programs in the future.

We follow the carbon hierarchy involving avoidance, efficiency, substitution and carbon offsetting as the overarching framework to reduce emissions.

carbon-heirarchy

Initiatives we have introduced to help drive down our emissions include:

  • Use of biodiesel during construction of the large water security projects
  • Securing approximately 740,000 tonnes of carbon sink forestry offsets in New South Wales and Western Australia that help sequester carbon
  • Energy efficiency programs such as introducing video conferencing, a new printing solution, powering down computers after use.
  • Ongoing fleet efficiency to reduce fuel usage and kilometres travelled.

Icon Water has also investigated the feasibility of other abatement measures such as:

  • Renewable energy options of waste, wind and solar
  • Geothermal and geoexchange potential in the ACT and
  • Use of ‘green’ cement with low emissions associated with its production

Climate Change

Icon Water acknowledges that Canberra is at risk from climate change and as a result we have undertaken various studies over the years to identify climate change risks impacts on our business. Most recent studies include the following:

  • In 2013 the South Eastern Australian Climate Initiative (SEACI) climate change scenario was adopted as Icon Water’s best estimate of future climate available through the following link.
  • More recently the SEACI data was applied to stochastic climate sequences supplied by SKM.
  • In 2015 three future scenarios were developed utilising those climate change assumptions with variations between the scenarios based on projected energy price rises, economic growth and more. The future scenarios were developed to support the Carbon and Energy Strategy that is currently being developed.
  • In association with the water industry, Icon Water is currently assisting in the development of climate change adaptation guidelines.

As a result of the risks, Icon Water has taken significant steps to secure the region’s water supply against future drier conditions, including the risks to water security arising from drought.  These have been addressed through the completion of two major water security projects and other smaller projects. These projects have increased Canberra’s overall storage capacity by 35%.